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Read on to discover how the idea behind the new sculpture at Crymlyn Burrows SSSI came to be. View the artistry of Eifion Thomas – JET Blacksmith – in forging the new archway sculpture and catch up on the launch event held July 2023. If you visit the Swansea Bay area why not take a moment to explore Crymlyn Burrows and all it has to offer?

From idea to entryway

Sunday 16th July 2023 was an exciting day for the Dynamic Dunescapes project team working in Wales. Co-hosted by Plantlife and seven other partners through Dynamic Dunescapes, a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to celebrate an entryway sculpture created by Welsh Artist Blacksmith Eifion Thomas (JET Blacksmith).

We have recently unveiled a locally-inspired sculpture intertwined with butterflies, birds and dragonflies in Wales.

The new sculpture at Crymlyn Burrows, which has taken four years to create, has been a huge part of the work of the Dynamic Dunescapes project at the SSSI in Swansea Bay. Backdropped by Swansea University’s Bay Campus, Crymlyn Burrows is one of 10 Dynamic Dunescapes sites in Wales.

The concept behind this sculpture was to create a sense of arrival for people visiting Crymlyn, and it was designed to include elements of the site that local residents connected with the most. Visitors to the sculpture will see it has butterflies, birds, dragonflies and more intertwined in it. We wanted it to represent not only the now but also the past and future of the site.

Beginning the design journey

The initial ideas for this project ranged from a single statue to a panel that would frame the diverse landscape of the SSSI. Through consultation with local visitors in 2022 the idea of an archway was selected, and key themes were voted upon.

Through a similar voting process, it was decided that the sister sculpture would more heavily reflect the surrounding landscape, with elements of the local dune systems of Crymlyn Burrows and sister site across the Neath Estuary at Baglan Burrows incorporated.

With ideas at hand, we set to finding a Welsh Artist Blacksmith who could bring this project to life. Pembrokeshire-based blacksmith Eifion Thomas (JET Blacksmith) was successful in capturing the windswept nature of the dunes of Swansea Bay.

As the months of 2023 began to tick by, each new update on the process of forging the sculpture was met with admiration for Eifion’s skills.

Fast forward to July 2023!

As well as the ribbon-cutting, the day involved guided walks, arts activities, a full day of bio-blitzing and a scavenger hunt! Local vendor Van Goffi provided lots of refreshments for attendees, while photographer Andy Davies captured the day through his lens. Once the rain and wind had calmed down, the day’s activities kicked off with visitors exploring the dunes with site warden Ben Sampson.

After wrapping the sculpture in a bow, we were joined by visitors and special guests for the official unveiling. Proceedings began with a short speech from Professor Charles Hipkin, who reflected on the significance of this special place both ecologically and to him personally.

With the rain at bay Ai-Lin Kee of Nature On Your Doorstep introduced visitors to the pollinators of the dunes, highlighting the work of the B-Lines project.

We’re thrilled to be able to share with visitors the story of the sculpture as well as the installation itself, which will be there to be enjoyed by all for many years to come. We greatly appreciate the support we have received from the landowners of Crymlyn Burrows, St Modwen, in bringing this project to life.

Stay tuned for more as the second sister sculpture is set to be installed elsewhere on site. To stay up to date, be sure to follow Sustainability at Swansea University on social media, and if you visit don’t forget to tag us in your photos!

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